A 2017 manzanilla La Jaca in Taberna Verdejo

Whereas I tend to pull faces when I get given really old wines I have no problem with the occasional manzanilla with a couple of years in the bottle. They get that touch of oxidation but remain very fine – no inclination towards the potency of a manzanilla pasada but a little bit of the flavour.

This one, a half bottle of La Jaca that had been filled in June 2017, was no exception to the rule. Still fragrant on the nose, but a little bit of old fruit in there with the chamomile, like one of those fruit teas, but wheras the fruit teas always smell better than they taste, this was just fine on the palate. Still fresh and zingy, had a nice dry, nutty palate and if not quite a hint of toffee maybe just a suggestion of nougat.

Very nice little wine, and absolutely at home in what is surely the loveliest little tavern in town.

Solear en Rama Primavera 2019 in Bache

Bache is a great spot for a quick lunch with a cracking list of sherries and some quality, fun solids to accompany them.

This is an absolute gem – for me at the same time the definition and archetype of a manzanilla and quite unique.

Old gold colour, crystal clear but consistent, fragrant on the nose with dried beach grass and yeast and zingy and juicy on the palate. It has been a while since I have had one of these but this has all the biological, incisive character of the spring sacas I remember.

I believe it is 20 years now that they have been producing these. 80 sacas of pure class. Happy Anniversary guys!

Manzanilla Carvajal

Very nice drop of manzanilla here – a special selection sourced by Jaime Carvajal, an up and coming young marquista, from wine made by Delgado Zuleta. Jaime was for many years Gonzalez Byass’ man in the province of Cadiz and now has a nice portfolio of wines including Cobijado and the palo cortado from Cayetano del Pino, amongst others.

Nice old gold colour as you can see – tablecloth notwithstanding – and a lovely nose on it with classic haybales and sea breeze and just a hint of spicey herbal tea. Then on the palate it has zingy salinity, a full flavour with just a touch of bitterness and oxidation and a full, buttery texture.

Top manzanilla – very nice indeed.

La Bota 93 de manzanilla – “Navazos”

Equipo Navazos release some class wines and this manzanilla is always one of them. A new bottling from the same botas that gave us the illustrious Bota 71 – and which I guess are botas acquired in 2007 from the cellars home to the famous La Guita.

As soon as you pour a glass you know this is an altogether richer wine than La Guita – a gorgeous old gold colour – and at the same time wonderfully aromatic, with lots of haybales and the archetypal chamomile. I remember first smelling the 71 from almost across the room at a social gathering and this one takes me back to that moment.

That chalky Miraflores character is very much in evidence on the palate, but here overlaid with the good juice: yeast, zingy salinity and sweet herbal tea.

An excellent manzanilla and a real blockbuster of a wine.

Manzanilla Predilecta

Full disclosure: this wine is distributed here in Madrid by a good friend of mine and not only that but he gave me this bottle.

So feel free to take it with a pinch of salt when I tell you it is a cracking good little manzanilla. Floral, with plenty of the archetypal chamomile on the nose, and serious on the palate, with a whiff of white fruit backed up by a knitting needle of saline heat and grapefruit and a long, warm, lingering and mouthwatering finish. At the flowery, juicy end of the scale.

But of course you cannot in all conscience rely on the objectivity of this review so I suggest you get out and buy some.

Tres en Rama 2019

The black swallows may or may not return to build their nests under my balcony but I am not going to miss much sleep over it while these three little beauties keep turning up on my doorstep. Another year and another edition of the Tres en Rama – Lustau’s great little boxed set showcasing the “terroir of the cellar”. A manzanilla de Sanlucar (cellared in Sanlucar), a fino de Jerez (cellared in Jerez) and a fino del Puerto (Puerto de Santa Maria), the three corners of the so-called sherry triangle.

First up, the manzanilla de Sanlucar. A nice rich en rama colour – no filtering here – a lovely apple, chamomile, sea breeze and haybale nose and the same punchy flavours on the palate before a saline, mouthwatering finish. Really opens the appetite.

Then second up (for me, but you can do as you please etc.) is the Fino de Jerez. This takes the haybales and sticks them in a farmyard, maybe with a bakery attached – all mulchy straw and yeasty bread on the nose and a sharper, zingier, more potent palate with a stinging hot, salty and watering end.

And last but by no means least, the fino del puerto. Here the sea breeze is full of the smells of rockpools and salty seaweed drying in the sun. The palate is again full of yeasty juice and bite, with a rich, juicy and mineral finish.

Superb stuff once again.

Manzanilla Olorosa Velo Flor

Have come across this a few times around Madrid in recent weeks – including with the man himself – but have just not had time to put thumbs to screen and bash out a post.

This is the “manzanilla olorosa” by Bodegas Alonso. An old style no longer officially recognized by the Consejo, it seems to fit in somewhere between manzanilla and manzanilla pasada. A more fragrant manzanilla, with a little oloroso character, which can be achieved in a variety of ways (as is so often the case in Jerez). In this wine it is achieved by giving the manzanilla eight months in an old oloroso butt. And it is certainly tasty stuff.

The first thing you notice about the wine is the bottle. If the standard velo flor bottle is tricky to rack, this magnum format looks even more of a wine storage headache. On the plus side, it would be hard to knock this bottle over in a breeze, and it looks pretty cool.

It’s a nice old gold colour in the glass, clear as a Madrid sky without quite shining. Then on the nose there is sea breeze, yeast and just that hint of baked apple, aromas that are backed up as it hits the tongue and back of the mouth.

A tasty, enjoyable manzanilla no doubt, and all the better for that brief stay in an old barrel.